Tuhoe leaders call for financial support for Iti appeal

By Yvonne Tahana

Tame Iti. Photo / Greg Bowker
Tame Iti. Photo / Greg Bowker

Tuhoe leaders and organisations are trying to raise cash for Tame Iti's appeal costs but one kohanga reo which has been asked will not be contributing to save Iti's "backside".

Iti was last month jailed for 2 years on firearms charges relating to the 2007 Urewera raids.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said Iti was not at present receiving legal aid for his appeal, but figures to late April show that $347,876 had been spent on his defence in the Urewera trial this year.

National Kohanga Reo Trust's chief executive officer, Titoki Black, emailed seven Tuhoe language nests this month saying that another tribal organisation, Te Uru Taumata, had asked for more support for Iti.

Ms Black, who is Tuhoe, asked for whanau views and said: "I would like to think that our kaupapa a purapura [kohanga cluster] will provide some financial support to someone who has fought so hard for our rights, our land and other things."

Speaking to the Herald, Ms Black said she was present during the October 15, 2007, raids when a kohanga van was pulled over and searched.

The stain of the day hadn't left her. "It's our iwi name being dragged in the mud. It's not just about Tame Iti, it's about Tuhoe."

Her own family would be giving a koha to Iti, who was a past chairman of a kohanga and a strong supporter of the movement.

But she wanted to make it clear there would be no dipping into institution funds, and kohanga outside the tribe's region had not been asked.

One kohanga representative who didn't want to be named said families from her institution were happy to be asked for support but the association with firearms and children didn't sit well. "If he was fighting for the kohanga reo then yes, but he's fighting to save his own backside."

Iti's lawyer, Russell Fairbrother, said he was unaware of the email. He would not say what Iti's bill was running at but said regardless of the cost he would be representing his client for the "long haul".

- NZ Herald

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